Thursday, November 04, 2010

When my child is attacked

Noah was attacked on the bus the other day. By a girl.

You may remember he rides one of the special ed buses. The kids on his bus are also in emotional support classes like he is. Yesterday he was one of only three kids on the bus. There is also an adult aid and the bus driver.

The woman who drives the bus and the aid are so nice. You can tell they love the kids. They have always been understanding and supportive of Noah. And best of all, if we aren't waiting for the bus they call me to let me know they are there!

So understanding that the kids that ride his bus have emotional and behavior problems I assumed that the adults on the bus are trained to deal with the children if they are out of control.

What I saw yesterday didn't exactly support that.

When Noah got on the bus yesterday the one female student that rides the bus was out of her seat. I thought she was looking at the Halloween decorations that we still have on our door. Noah sat in his usual seat and the aid helped him buckle his seat belt. The girl was standing behind Noah and grabbed his hair. Since the aid was standing right there I assumed the girl was just teasing Noah and touching his hair. It wasn't until later that I understood she was grabbing it and pulling.

What confuses me is that as the bus drove away the aid never touched her. I assume she told  her to sit down but did nothing to enforce it. I did see her sit down just before they were out of sight. The aid sat down herself several rows in front of her.

An hour or so later the school nurse called to tell me that Noah had a couple scratches on his hand from an altercation on the bus. That was when I realized it was more serious.

When Noah got home that afternoon he told me what happened and that he and the other boy had to protect themselves by using arm blocks (like he learned in karate). The other boy was hit in the head. Noah also had a scratch on his nose.

Today I found out that the girl has been removed from the bus. Noah said she is also going to be going to a new school. 

I feel bad for her, and for her parents. I know this isn't the first time she has been violent. I can only imagine that they are dealing with some scary mental health issues, considering the stories I have heard. 

Noah handled himself well during the incident, and I am very proud of him.

I've been in contact with the principal (you know, my biggest fan) via email. This is part of the email I sent last night:

I hesitate to write this email because I am not trying to cause problems from the women that drive Noah's bus. I also don't want to create more problems for the child that was involved. As the parent of a child with emotional problems I understand the complexity of the issues our children deal with every day. However, as a parent it is important that I express concerns when I think my child's safety may be at risk. I'm concerned that the bus personnel do not have the appropriate training to effectively provide the level of behavior support that the children that ride that bus need. Yesterday was not the first time I witnessed children out of their seats and moving around on the bus, or showing other aggressive or out of control behaviors. If a child is so out of control they are attacking another child, I believe it is a reasonable expectation that the adults supervising will restrain the child to ensure that another child is not harmed. If Noah was the one harming another child I would want, and expect, that an adult would intervene physically if needed. Knowing that the children riding this bus might require this type of intervention, I also expect that the personnel are properly trained in how to restrain a child and when it is appropriate to do so. Are these unrealistic expectations? I would appreciate it if you could provide me with documentation regarding the training that is provided to the drivers and their assistants on the special education buses and what reasonable expectations I should have as a parent in this regard. I would also like to know what is being done to ensure that an incident like this is more appropriately handled in the future, or better yet prevented entirely. I would be happy to discuss my concerns with you personally.

The principal responded late this afternoon to say she had forwarded my concerns to the appropriate people in the school district. It will be interesting to see how they respond.

I'm not trying to create problems for anyone, and I hope I made that clear. I do want to ensure they their review policies and training and make sure that the people working with our kids are properly trained and prepared. I also want to make sure I know what their policies are.

I'm somewhat expecting to get a response having to do with "budget limitations." 

What do you think? Are my expectations unreasonable? 


1 comment:

  1. I don't think it's an unreasonable expectation that the school get your child from home to school and school to home without being physically assaulted by another child, no.

    Whether they actually CAN (within a reasonable amount of time.. because nothing happens fast in the public education realm) is a whole other story.